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Niccolo Machiavelli on Politics

Niccolo Machiavelli was a great thinker of the Renaissance who traveled all over Europe studying the political systems of governments. By working for people such as de Medici, Machiavel li developed a science of politics, which he felt should be implemented by the ruling class. In "The Prince," Machiavelli gives a clear and concise analysis of how a political leader might achieve power and maintain it. To succeed in both these areas, leaders must deal with reality pragmatically, even if it conflicts with their morality. Two political leaders who fol lowed Machiavelli's ways to a large extent were Napoleon Bonaparte and Adolf Hitler. Through these two examples one can evaluate how well Machiavelli's methodology works in the real world.

Machiavelli was loyal to the state and not to the Republic. When there was a change in government, he was on the losing side, and thereafter was not allowed to participate in politics. Nonetheless, he continued to analyze political systems carefully and eventually decided to write down his political philosophy. His full intention was for political leaders to read the material so that they could better themselves as politicians. Herbert Butterfield writes, "The essence of his teaching was the promo tion of a more scientific statecraft and he made it clear that he wrote his books in order to produce an actual change in the practice of his day" (16). Italy's government was in chaos at that time, and Machiavelli foresaw that a political leader could rise to power in such a circumstance. It is in this same situa tion that Hitler and Napoleon found themselves.

There are many ways a political leader can obtain a state and Machiavelli does not present any moral standard. He does imply that politicians should try to be moral whenever it is possible. But, in the struggle to obtain power, if morals get in the way, the Prince (in this case the political leader) should disregard them. The ultim...

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